FOOD (re) CREATIONS: The Ultimate Thanksgiving Turkey

I can't take credit for the brilliance of this year's turkey recipe, that goes to FEAST a great St. Louis food and wine publication. But the execution was spot on if I do say so myself. The turkey was brined overnight and then rubbed with a breadcrumb, herb butter mixture that took things to another level. A trusty meat thermometer from Dierbergs helped finish things off. 



FOOD CREATIONS: Doggy's Spice-Rubbed Loin

So I've been in denial about the onset of winter and continued to grill and ill and grill. I just can't get enough. So last night, despite a raw 40 degrees and rain, I had to fire up the grill. The question, what to throw on there?
In the freezer, a pork loin from Costco was begging to be thawed and grilled to a tender, juicy conclusion. So I obliged, but had to spice things up a bit. Enter a new creation - the sweet, spicy, savory Diggy Dogg Spice Rub. 

Doggy Spice-Rubbed Grilled Pork Loin - The inspiration for this comes from a great dive in St. Louis called , Iron Barley . Their signature dish, the oak roast pork, has been featured on shows like Man Vs, Food  and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives . It's delicious although when I had it this time it was a bit dry. So I wanted to go for something with great flavor cooked to a juicy level of doneness. Since I have never created a rub for pork before I was winging it. I didn't go out and buy ingredients, I just used what limited stuff we had in the kitchen. Here are the results. . .

2 pork loins (1 - 1.25 lb each)

Brown Sugar - 1/2 cup
Granulated Sugar - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1 1/2 tablespoon
Pepper - 1 1/2 tablespoon
Herbs de Provence - 5 dashes
Ground Ginger - 1 tablespoon
Ground Sage - 3 dashes
Red Pepper Flake - 2 dashes
Paprika - 1 dash

Lightly coat pork loins in olive oil. Combine rub ingredients in bowl and mix thoroughly. Scoop a little less than 1/2 cup of rub and sprinkle it over the pork loins. Rub mixture into meat. Flip pork loins and repeat. Preheat grill on high getting it nice and hot. Put pork loins directly over heat and sear each side for about 2 minutes a side. Turn down grill to medium and place loins either on the upper rack above grill surface or to the side, not under direct heat. Grill for about 35-40 minutes turning loins every 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes before cutting. Enjoy. 

The result is a deliciously flavored perfectly done piece of meat. The sugars in the rub will caramelize while the pepper flake and paprika will add a little heat to balance things out.


Desperate Housewife?!

ESPN/AP - LOS ANGELES -- Eva Longoria filed court papers Wednesday to divorce Tony Parker, citing irreconcilable differences.
Longoria, a star of TV's "Desperate Housewives," and Parker, an All-Star with the San Antonio Spurs, were married July 7, 2007. They have no children together.
In the filing, Longoria requested that her name be restored to Eva Jacqueline Longoria. She had taken Parker's name when they married.
The filing also stated the couple had a prenuptial agreement but no details were provided.
Longoria asked the court to require each side pay its own attorney fees. She also wants to receive spousal support from Parker but not pay any to him.
Longoria's spokeswoman, Liza Anderson, said the actress had no comment. Parker wasn't immediately available for comment.
Longoria, 35, did not indicate in the court filings when the couple broke up.
Parker, 28, signed a multiyear extension with the Spurs two weeks ago. At the time, the point guard from France insisted he and Longoria wanted to remain in San Antonio.
The former couple each posted a statement on their Twitter accounts addressing the divorce.
"We love each other deeply and pray for each other's happiness," the posting said.

The filing also stated the couple had a prenuptial agreement but no details were provided.
Longoria asked the court to require each side pay its own attorney fees. She also wants to receive spousal support from Parker but not pay any to him.

Wait what?! So let me get this straight. . . You sign a prenup, you make more than your husband and you are going to be remarried to some billionaire within a year and Eva Longoria wants to fleece Tony Parker for spousal support? Am I the only one who thinks that is ridiculous. Isn't the whole point of a prenup to avoid a mess like this?
Look I hate Tony Parker as much as any red-blooded American male but I kinda feel bad for the guy. Eva has been playing a desperate, blood-sucking housewife for too long. Clearly her life is imitating her art here. Is she aware she can stop playing Gabrielle Solis  for a minute?

I'm ok with a woman getting a little spousal support if she is popping out kids and putting the family ahead of her career but that clearly is not the case here. Eva needs to get flagged for piling on. You don't go girl!


The Vermont Landscape - Part 1 Introduction

The following is my senior thesis completed in 2003 for my Environmental Studies degree at Middlebury. I rediscovered in on a recent trip home to Boston and dusted off the cover realizing how much I love Vermont and the place it represents. In the coming weeks I will publish each part of the the story starting with the Introduction today.

Does Vermont’s Open, Agricultural Landscape Have a Future?
Ideas, Thoughts and Solutions for a Threatened Common Vision


Vermont’s indelible character grows from its landscape and extends outward. Once jagged, rocky peaks that formed the backbone of the state, the Green Mountains now are crumpled folds of lush green satin pulled up from the valley floors demarcating east from west. Vermont has its own “kingdom” tucked away in its sleepy northeast corner and fittingly named so. Valleys running north to south through the Greens are so tightly situated, their residents can expect sunset an hour earlier each day – if the clouds aren’t out, that is. And to the western end of this landlocked state lies water, Lake Champlain, with what passes as a verdant basin leading down to it. The towns sit on top of clay and rock, as do the barns and houses. And on that land almost anywhere in the state, you’ll find men working, hands dirty, eking out a living.
Vermont farms. Since people have settled here, farming has always been a prime attraction. For many the exhaustion of farmland in southern New England meant new hope in Vermont and its northern New England neighbors. In the 1940’s, the state had over 24,000 farms. In a state that is roughly 9,500 square miles, 9,100 of which is devoted to land, that translated to between two and three farms per square mile. If we were to exclude mountainous areas that are non-arable, of which there are many, then the concentration of farms per square mile would likely skyrocket. In so many words – farms were everywhere.
            Such a picturesque place also attracts people for reasons other than farming. In my youth, the monotony of suburban Boston was broken by vacations, often split between Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Each of these states brings its own distinct character, which was lost on me until my later years. Yet my father understood what made Vermont distinct, and would often tell us – or better yet, tell anyone who would listen. “What I love about Vermont,” he would say, “is the rolling hills with open fields and pastures. Ahhh, it’s so beautiful.” He would later add that uninterrupted forest covering mountains just didn’t do it for him.
            Of course, that dynamic of forest to field has changed too in Vermont along with a great many other things. Just over 100 years ago, at the height of farming in Vermont, the state was 25 percent forest and 75 percent open space. That ratio has nearly reversed itself today, yet farming had persevered. The common view of a working landscape became entrenched in the Vermont psyche – and, if my father is any evidence, in the New England psyche as well. The “commons”, as it were, was a paradigm for Vermonters’ land values. Each town kept a pastoral emerald center that, in theory, was open to the townspeople’s animals for grazing. Such a need no longer exists; however, each municipality in some form or another has kept such a space, and kept it open. Just as there has been the bedrock expectation that the land in Vermont remain a working landscape, so to has there been the expectation that the center of town stay open. And so there is a marriage of concepts – “working” and “open” – which has been articulated to apply in town and country alike. “Despite the growth of the town, the field should still remain,” the saying would go. Trees and weeds are not allowed to take over the commons and neither are buildings and houses.
            But with time comes pressure, as any geologist would tell you. The commons now is subjected to countless pressures, many of them sociological. What is to become of Vermont’s shared expectation that the land stay open and be worked and that farmer’s hands be “dirtied”? It seems there is a threat, a modern day one – but from whom and from where?
           This April, the Vermont legislature passed a farm relief plan devised by newly elected Governor Jim Douglas, putting much needed money in farmers’ hands. In theory it allows farmers in dire financial straits, hope for another growing season along with enough money to plant their crops. Douglas, the husband of a farmer’s daughter, had little trouble gaining the support and empathy of the legislature. Senator Sara Kittell of Franklin said to the Burlington Free Press, “It wasn't hard to get people together because we know the importance of farms to the Vermont economy.”
            In fact, over 70 percent of all receipts paid to farmers in Vermont are milk checks, underscoring the importance of dairying in Vermont (Mitchell, 1999). That revenue comes from “production units” – or, in simpler terms, cows. Joe Sherman points out in his book Fast Lane on a Dirt Road, that successful dairying in Vermont came to require more cows and to revolve around the axiom, “you could only have as many cows as you could feed” (20). To feed cows you need land, and so we have come full circle. Vermont’s character grows from the land and extends outward.
Since 1946 the amount of milk produced by Vermont dairy cows has more than doubled. And yet incredibly, in that same span the number of cows dotting the fields has been halved. Yes, that means more milk per cow - roughly by a factor of four. Mathematics aside for a second, there are trends galore to be found revolving around the Vermont dairy industry, which, as we have seen, is the state’s largest agricultural enterprise. Perhaps one of the most interesting trends, however, is one that has been shared with the rest of the country in general: there are fewer farmers today than there were 50 years ago, by a long shot. This falls in line with the globalization and consolidation found in all sectors of modern society. Yet Vermont’s pill of disappearing farms is a hard one to swallow, given that dairying and the Green Mountain State have gone hand in hand for so long. In 1945 roughly 11,000 dairy farms speckled the state. Now just after the turn of the century, there are only about 1,400 (Don Mitchell, personal communication, April, 18, 2003).
Even areas of the state that are best suited for farming have seen a decline. Addison County, one of the state’s most fertile due to its proximity to Lake Champlain, has lost 80 percent of its farms since the end of World War II. So, with all these numbers concerning dairy farming in Vermont, is there cause for alarm? That all depends on whom you ask.


FOOD CREATIONS: Milk and Cereal. . .

. . . Cereal and Milk. Actually there is no way this Food Creation could be confused with that awful song by G Love. I saw it performed once at a horse track in Cali and literally schmucks from the crowd were brought up and performed it better than G Love. Awful either way. But I digress. 

So this is the first in a series I'm calling Food Creations. Some of them might not be original but I don't care. In each case no recipe was used and a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach was employed. I'll include ingredients and instructions as well.

Breakfast in a Bowl - Screw what BK is doing with microwaved eggs and tots accompanied by flute solos. My version is much better. Instant oatmeal brought to life by freshly brewed coffee. A can't miss. The coffee is hot, instant oats love hot liquid, why not combine the two? Follow me? Anyways here is how to get it done. 

1 package instant oatmeal
1/2 cup brewed coffee
dash of milk or cream
pinch brown sugar

Pour oatmeal in your favorite bowl. Pour hot coffee in and stir until desired consistency is reached. Add milk if desired and finished with some brown sugar. Enjoy.